Politics Signs of dissension in Democratic ranks could complicate Biden agenda
3 losers and 2 winners from Biden’s first press conference
Winner: A return to normalcy. Loser: Americans still worried about the Covid-19 pandemic.A White House press corps that has been waiting impatiently for its turn to question the president directly spent about an hour peppering Biden with questions about the surge of unaccompanied minors at the US-Mexico border, how to address the threat posed by China, his thoughts on the Senate filibuster, and whether he’d run for president in 2024. (It’s his “expectation” that he will.
Democrats may control Congress, but President Joe Biden's leadership of the congressional Democrats is in question even before his 100th day in office.
Democratic cohesion early in Biden's term sparked gleeful remarks from the Left about Democrats not being in disarray for once — the opposite has become a political cliche because the party often is stymied by warring factions.
But with the passage of Biden's $1.9 trillion spending package Democrats contend was needed to deal with the pandemic, it is becoming harder for the president to keep his party together as he is tested by familiar and emerging issues.
Five takeaways from Biden's first presser
In his first press conference as commander in chief, President Biden forcefully defended his administration's response to the surge of migrants at the southern border and signaled he could be open to getting rid of the filibuster that is imperiling his legislative agenda. Biden, who waited longer than his predecessors to take questions in a formal setting, made some news, saying he "can't picture" having U.S. troops in Afghanistan next year and acknowledging his intention to run for reelection in 2024.
Political strategist Juven Jacob conceded there were always fissures between the branches of government but insisted Democrats are aligned "on a vast majority of the issues facing the country."
"President Biden has an ambitious agenda, and I have no doubt that administration will work closely with Congress to get things done," he told the Washington Examiner.
What Democrats do not address is how examples of Democratic dissension this week were exacerbated by Biden himself.
Democratic Sens. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, for instance, seized on Biden's own campaign promise that his Cabinet would reflect the country, jeopardizing their party's already weak grip on the evenly divided Senate.
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Duckworth and Hirono, both of whom are of Asian descent, threatened to pull their support of some Biden nominees unless the president boosted Asian American Pacific Islander representation in his Cabinet. The pair's demand was made after six Asian Americans were killed last week in the Atlanta-area spa shooting spree.
To pare tensions that have been building since his transition, the White House told Democratic senators during a Monday night phone call the AAPI community was represented in Biden's Cabinet by Vice President Kamala Harris, who has Indian heritage. They also named United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai, a sub-Cabinet official.
Duckworth, who was last year shortlisted as Biden's running mate, told reporters the next day the Harris citation wasShe then vowed not to endorse any white Biden nominees unless they identified as being gay. AAPI advocates had earlier expressed their disappointment with the sub-Cabinet appointments, given the administration includes and excludes those members depending on the situation.
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Just this week, for instance, White House chief of staff Ron Klain tweeted Biden is "the first president in 40 years to win confirmation of all of his nominees for the 'statutory cabinet,'" after the Senate approved Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. But that overlooks Neera Tanden, Biden's dumped Office of Management and Budget director nominee, who also has Indian ancestry.
“We have the most diverse Cabinet in history. We have a lot of Asian Americans who are in the Cabinet and sub-Cabinet levels. Our Cabinet is formed," repeated Biden Tuesday afternoon.
But by that evening, senior staff had relented to Duckworth and Hirono and agreed to hire an AAPI presidential special adviser, aware of the narrow Democratic Senate majority and their reliance on the lawmakers' votes.
The other issue splintering Democrats is a familiar one: the surge of migrants crossing the country's southern border.
Democrats coalesced against former President Donald Trump over his tough immigration policies. But now that Biden is in charge, some are turning against him.
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The Biden administration is expected to encounterat the border this month, and federal government resources are buckling under the strain. But aides won't call the predicament preferring to refer to it as a "challenge" instead.
Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, an original member of the uber-liberal "Squad," contradicted Biden on Thursday,Tlaib's comments are breaking with Biden after the group told its followers it would pressure the centrist president from the ideological Left.
"This is not an issue or crisis, I think, that's going to go anywhere," Tlaib said. "I mean, the last nine months, we continue to see these surges, these increases of these children coming across our border wanting a better life, and that is something that we need to figure out. How do we truly address that? Because doing nothing has consequences."
And Democratic Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar this weekphotos taken inside a crowded border facility housing migrants. The photos capturing conditions inside the facility in Donna, Texas, led the White House to of Donna and another shelter in El Paso. Staff also granted access to one camera crew to see inside a Carrizo Springs facility elsewhere in the state on Wednesday.
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Two top Republicans are asking the Justice Department and intelligence community to hand over to Congress any and all intelligence records tied to Chinese government-connected foreign nationals who had business dealings with Hunter Biden. © Provided by Washington Examiner Concerns about President Joe Biden’s son gained broader attention late last year after multiple outlets reported that he is being federally investigated in connection with his taxes and potentially related to his overseas business with China and other countries. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen.
Despite the discord, Democrats, such as Aggressive Progressive podcast host Christopher Hahn, claim the disunity demonstrates a strong party.
"Democrats are not the monolith Republicans often cast them as," the political commentator told the Washington Examiner. "These kinds of disputes are not unique and often end with meaningful change."
Others, including consultant Mike Nellis, contend Democrats "can handle disagreements and serious debates ... unlike Republicans, who are terrified of Donald Trump."
"What you're seeing is a healthy, political coalition working together to get things done," he said.
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